Some of the oldest structures in the world are churches, and they have a long tradition of being the centers of communities not just for spiritual reasons, but for social ones as well. But like everything else, they sometimes become abandoned for one reason or another, and the impressive structures are slowly reclaimed by nature, leaving a silent, decaying shell that’s haunting but beautiful. Churches like these can be found all over the world, and here are 20 of the most amazing, as well as some of their stories.
The village of Kayaköy was mainly populated by Greek Christians. In the early 1900s, during the Greco-Turkish War, the inhabitants were forced out and made to walk in a death march where many perished. The town has been abandoned ever since.
Bussana Vecchia has been abandoned since a major earthquake struck in 1887, killing about 2,000 people. In the 1950s and 60s, artists began moving back into the ghost town, albeit illegally, and a community of artists still lives there, despite some issues with the local authority, to this day.
This church is submerged in Mavrovo Lake. Also a St. Nicholas, it too was apparently flooded to make an artificial lake for a power plant. The roof has been reclaimed by vegetation, and the church still looks out from the lake onto its village.
Derrycunnihy Church, in Killarney National Park, is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl who was killed in a bicycle accident in the 1950s. Numerous people have reported seeing a “figure in white” in the area.
This looks like an ancient ruin, but it’s actually the never-completed framework of a relatively modern church. It was begun in 1874, but never finished, but it’s still popular with tourists and as an event space.
The 17th-century monastery of St. Nicholas, along with much of the old town and several other medieval buildings, was submerged in 1940 with the constriction of the Uglich Hydroelectric Station. The belfry now stands in the Uglich Reservoir.